Major community donation to help sick Taranaki children

Some of Taranaki’s smallest patients are set to benefit from new high-tech equipment for Taranaki Base Hospital.

Thanks to a $66,700 donation from the 2019 Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal, the Neonatal Unit has a new specialised baby ventilator, while the Children and Young People’s Ward is to receive a handheld, infrared monitor that easily finds the tiny veins of children.

The Drager Babylog ventilator – a life support machine for babies born with immature lungs and underdeveloped breathing, or who are sick at birth – will be a game changer for Taranaki families, says Abi Webber, Taranaki DHB Neonatal Unit clinical nurse manager.

The unit already has one baby ventilator, but a second will enable two sick babies to be cared for at the same time.

“Having a really sick newborn baby is one of the hardest things any family can go through. On top of all that stress, to be told that you need to pack everything up and fly to Waikato Hospital is very traumatic,” Webber says.

“The impact of having this will be huge. Having the best technology in Taranaki means families will more likely be able to stay in their home region, with their whānau.”

Taranaki Health Foundation general manager Bry Kopu (left) with 2019 Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal champion Dani Korau.

Jessica Beattie, clinical nurse manager for the TSB Children and Young People’s Ward, says the handheld Accuvein monitor, with infrared lights to easily locate veins in children, is a first for the hospital and will help when inserting a line to draw blood or give medication.

“It’s really hard to get a line in children. Their veins are so small. All the research shows the more attempts to get a line in, the more traumatised the child and family are. The fewer attempts to get a needle in the vein, the less trauma and a more positive experience for the children,” Beattie says.

As a thank you for the donation, Taranaki Health Foundation and DHB management presented Taranaki Countdown staff a special cake at the New Plymouth Central branch.

Countdown group manager Taranaki, Shaun Wall, says he is incredibly proud of his staff and local customers who helped raise the money for the new hospital equipment as part of the 2019 Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal.

Taranaki Countdown supermarkets have been fundraising since August for the cause, which included holding a charity golf day, car wash, bake sales, and bingo, as well as selling raffle tickets in store.

“We know that children’s hospitals touch everybody in a community – mums and dads, aunties, uncles, grandparents. Taranaki DHB do a fantastic job looking after Taranaki children and we are so pleased we can help to improve the experiences of those children and their families while in hospital,” he said.

The Taranaki Health Foundation is the primary fundraiser for the Taranaki DHB and was thrilled to partner with Countdown for this year’s appeal, Foundation general manager Bry Kopu-Scott says.

“Taranaki people have outdone themselves again in 2019, with generous donations and participation in organised activities. There are so many worthy causes within the region, so it’s heart warming to see such a positive outcome for children’s health.

“The Foundation is the first point of call for people wishing to contribute to health in Taranaki. We fundraise year round and have a range of projects that focus on patient comfort, well-being and support, as well as game-changing equipment like the Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal. Fundraising is more than just dollars and cents – it takes a whole community to care.”

For more information, or to donate, check out Taranaki Health Foundation online.

Words by Rochelle West